View Full Version : Blank gun - is this safe?

August 12, 2007, 12:12 AM
I was bored today so I wandered off to the garage and built a black powder blank gun using things I had laying around. :) The business end is a 3/8" x 5" steel pipe nipple, with electronic ignition. I set it off a few times from a distance using a tiny amount of powder (half a bic pen cap full) and everything seems ok. I just wanted to double check though, do you think this is safe? I would never use steel pipe for a real gun but remember this thing has no projectile...

Bill DeShivs
August 12, 2007, 12:39 AM
Sounds more like you assembled 3/4 of a pipe bomb. I wouldn't be too vocal about it.

August 12, 2007, 12:51 AM
It's no more of a pipe bomb than any other muzzleloading gun....:rolleyes:

Billy Sparks
August 12, 2007, 05:31 AM
Really? Think the local LEO or ATF would think so? Altough in your mind you have created nothing more than a home made muzzle loading gun I doubt I would want to check that out with the local Po-Po.

August 12, 2007, 02:19 PM
Well, first of all it's perfectly legal to build your own gun out of whatever materials you want. Secondly, it's a blank gun. Thirdly, I didn't ask about the legality. Does anyone have an actual answer to the question?

Josh Smith
August 12, 2007, 02:45 PM
First, how thick is the pipe?

Years back when I was a teenager I built a small cannon out of an Al arrow I had sawed the ends off of.

It was powered by a firecracker and would send a ball bearing through a 2x4.

The breech was reenforced with several layers of duct tape.

I wouldn't recommend this, and I disassembled that thing.

If the pipe is thick enough you're probably safe, but I will assume no liability whatsoever if it is not as I've not seen the thing in person nor even inspected the plans. Further, none of this is to be construed as legal advice. I am relating an experience. (I hope you understand why I feel I must put this disclaimer on here.)

Bill DeShivs
August 12, 2007, 05:03 PM
I have no problem with you doing it. Pipe is not the safest thing to use for a muzzleloader, though. As long as you keep powder charges down and don't use a projectile it will probably be safe. I sure would remove the threads from the muzzle end, though.
If you do happen to blow yourself up, please don't blame me.

James K
August 12, 2007, 08:43 PM
You won't run into trouble with that small of a powder charge, but if you go bigger you could get into problems. IIRC, common steel pipe is only rated to about 2000 psi and you can get that much from just a charge of black powder without any projectile at all. (Pressure builds from the inertia of the powder charge itself, and the fact that it makes noise means there is pressure, small though it may be.)

So, my feeling is that using pipe to make a blank gun is NOT safe.


August 12, 2007, 10:06 PM
Aw Jim, you really shouldn't confuse people with facts, you take all the fun out of it.:)

August 13, 2007, 10:50 AM
The standard seamed pipe is not a great choice. A seamless heavy wall pipe could do very well, but you would need to weld up the breech with a plate. The "cannon" that sounds colors at Camp Perry is made this way. About the size of a small mortar and fires a teaspoon of black powder with a newspaper wad. Good boomer. Two or three inch seamless pipe, I think? It's been too many years since I was up close to it.

If you don't want to invest in a firing replica cannon, you are probably OK as long as your pipe is overbore for the size of the powder charge. For example, where a .44 cap and ball revolver might use a 20 grain powder charge, you would probably want to use a 1" to 2" iron pipe for that same 20 grains. That gives it some expansion volume to minimize pressure. If you have some sandbags, you could do what the arms makers to and proof the thing. Put an intentional double-charge and fire it remotely from a pit surrounded by the bags. If it survives and a caliper doesn't reveal any sign of bulging, it is probably quite safe for your single charge loads.

My dad did build me a firecracker cannon from galvanized pipe when I was young. No threads at the muzzle. At the breech he sawed a wide slot by using two blades on the hacksaw at the same time. He made a carriage and wheels from wood, and the pipe inserted through the wood. The cap was removed at the breech, the firecracker inserted with its fuse in the slot, and the cap screwed back on so the slot has become the touch hole. No problem shooting firecrackers this way. I recall launching some loose fitting dowel rod sections and maybe a marble or two from it. I would consider those acts a bit risky today.

Bill DeShivs
August 13, 2007, 12:33 PM
Never use a cannon with a welded breech. This is an old rule.

August 21, 2007, 05:04 PM
when I was young we all made cannons that shot glass marbles.used fire crackers with fuse thru nipple.
I have several bangsite cannons some with die metal some are cast iron.fired with bangsite[carbide gas]they still sell these $90/150.
nobody want to chance that yours will be safe.during ww2 Philipines made pipe guns that shot shot gun shells and there is a army manual that discribes how to make a rifle out of pipe [not me kid]:rolleyes:but desperation did some strange things.:confused::D